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Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
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Maps and Legends (edition 2008)

by Michael Chabon

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1,169246,922 (3.71)46
Member:JanetBoyer
Title:Maps and Legends
Authors:Michael Chabon
Info:McSweeney's (2008), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 200 pages
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Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon (Author)

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English (23)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
There's no denying that Michael Chabon cares very deeply about literature in general and genre fiction in particular, and his enthusiasm for storytelling is contagious. However, I have to admit that I didn't connect with some of the pieces, having never read anything by Cormac McCarthy, Will Eisner, etc. -- which I admit is my fault, not Chabon's. However, it would have behooved Chabon to recognize that not everyone would know the authors he was extolling/critiquing, and only the pieces about Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Pullman and M.R. James are long enough to give non-fans a real sense of those writers' qualities. His more general essays about fiction are fine, but my favorites are the autobiographical pieces, as those gave some real insights into his background and favorite themes, and also tend to be more revealing and funnier (along the lines of his later collection "Manhood for Amateurs"). ( )
  bostonian71 | Jul 20, 2014 |
At their best, these essays are superb. Would particularly cite the opening essay ("Trickster in a Suit of Lights" which focuses on the modern short story, and laments the increased divergence from its roots in ghost stories, adventure stories, and the like) and the closing essay/fiction ("Golems I Have Known" which seamlessly weaves autobiography with invention to describe Chabon's encounters with three golems that shaped his subsequent life and trajectory, with a particularly richly drawn fraudulent writer/Holocaust survivor).

In between, many of the essays focus on particular books or authors. When you have read/like them, they can be extremely good (the essay on His Dark Materials is fascinating, describing it as coming from the Christian tradition while most other fantasy is from the Norse), in some cases they serve as a good introduction to an author you may read little or none (e.g., "The Other James" about M.R. James), but in many--especially the ones about comic books I have never read--it is less interesting.

Overall, the goal of the book is to defend genre fiction--and especially comic books--celebrating the "trickster" in literature who entertains with well shaped stories with good plots, interesting characters, and leaving the reader uncertain what is real and what is a trick. And it was successful in achieving this goal. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Contents:
Trickster in a suit of lights: thoughts on the modern short story
Maps and legends
Fan fictions: on Sherlock Holmes
Ragnarok boy
On daemons & dust
Kids' stuff
Killer hook: Howard Chaykin's American Flagg!
Dark adventure: on Cormac McCarthy's The road
TheOther James
Landsman of the lost
Thoughts on the death of Will Eisner
My back pages
Diving into the wreck
Recipe for life
Imaginary homelands
Golems I have known, or, Why my elder son's middle name is Napoleon. ( )
  SChant | May 9, 2014 |
This collection of essays has moments of brilliance...and then some "just good" essays. I especially loved the essay about his childhood in Columbia, Maryland, a planned community much different than the rest of late 1960s - early 1970s America. The essay on Cormac McCarthy is wonderful and made me almost want to read another of his works, but I'm not quite convinced. I do want to read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Pullman. Overall, I am very glad that I read this work. ( )
  LaurieAE | Aug 22, 2013 |
Because I've read more of Chabon's later books than his earlier ones I was less intrigued by the essays here that look at his own work, but he's very persuasive about his own literary enthusiasms, and the pieces dealing with those were the ones I enjoyed the most. My "to read" list is getting a lot longer as a result of reading this collection! ( )
  savoirfaire | Apr 6, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chabon, MichaelAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crane, JordanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The more I dive into this matter of whaling, and push my researches up to the very spring-head of it, so much the more am I impressed with its great honorableness and antiquity; and especially when I find so many great demi-gods and heroes, prophets of all sorts, who one way or other have shed distinction upon it, I am transported with the reflection that I myself belong, though but subordinately, to so emblazoned a fraternity.

— Herman Melville, on the writing of fan fiction

Dedication
To Ayelet
First words
Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even to revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights.
Quotations
Ghost stories, mysteries, stories of terror or adventure or modern urban life- descend from the fireside tale, told with wolves in the woods all around, with winter howling at the window.   pg 132
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Collection of essays - review of books and authors, thoughts on the state of comics and graphic novels, memoir-like pseudo-fiction, etc.
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A series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing, with subjects running from ghost stories to comic books, Sherlock Holmes to Cormac McCarthy. Throughout, Chabon energetically argues for a return to the thrilling, chilling origins of storytelling, rejecting the false walls around "serious" literature in favor of a wide-ranging affection.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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